15 Spice Facts that every Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know

15 Spice Facts that every Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know

Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know

Part 18


15 Spice Facts that every Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know.

So you know all about the meats and vegetables that you use daily, but how familiar are you with spices ?




  1. Peppercorns have been used to spice up foods for more than 4,000 years. As early as the 4th century BC, texts describe pepper being used as a seasoning for Indian feasts.


  1. In Ancient Taoist mythology, black garlic, a fermented Korean product, was associated with immortality. While we’re not sure it will endow you with supernatural powers, I assure you that it will add richness and amazing flavour to eggs, dips and meats. Unlike white garlic, the black variation isn’t at all harsh in fact it tastes almost like a savory version of a fig.



  1. The names of many spice blends are shrouded in mystery. Like the Argentinian blend, Chimichurri. One story is that Basque colonists named the sauce tximitxurry, which loosely translates to “a mix of many things, in no particular order.”


  1. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world, currently sitting at around $600 for 28 grams . This is because the vibrant thread-like spice has to be harvested by hand. Saffron comes from the stigma of the crocus sativus, and each crocus contains only 3-5 stigma. This means one hundred flowers are needed to produce only one gram of saffron. However, only a few strands are needed to infuse a dish with intense flavour and a faint tangerine colour.



  1. It was Christopher Columbus that originally named the dried fruit of a certain Jamaican plant pimento. It was to became known as allspice when it arrived in Europe,. This name is attributed to the fact that it tastes like a blend of many spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Its unique flavour makes this small, dried berry a perfect addition to savory dishes ,it’s a key ingredient to my Jamaican Jerk Seasoning and in baked desserts.


  1. Nutmeg trees actually produce two spices: nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the seed of the tree, while mace is the lacy, reddish covering on the nutmeg seed. The flavour is similar but mace is slightly more pungent. Nutmeg was once so exotic that the Dutch traded the entire island of Manhattan to the British for the islands that grew nutmeg.



  1. Masala is sometimes mention as a seasoning. In fact, masala translates from Indian meaning mixture of spices. So a masala blend can contain just about anything. Chat Masala is a tart spice blend It typically consists of amchur (dried mango powder), cumin, coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper, asafoetida and chilli powder. While Garam masala literally means a “hot mixture of spices” and is a combination of ground roasted cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom, cloves, and other spices.


  1. Achiote seeds (or annatto seeds) are small, triangular, red seeds. They are used as an orange-red condiment and food colouring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana). Also for its flavour and aroma. I’d describe it as slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg and the flavour is slightly nutty, sweet and peppery. It is best known for their application in making authentic Puerco pabil, a slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Península . The seeds have also been used to colour, cheeses, cosmetics and fabrics.



  1. The primary difference between a Meat rub and a seasoning is the particle size. Meat rubs are more coarse, which helps prevent the spices in the seasonings from burning during the cooking process. Seasonings are better for dishes with shorter cooking times and less intense heat.


  1. California Bay leaves and Turkish Bay leaves while both from the bay laurel plant, have distinctively different flavours due to the climate and atmosphere in which they are grown. The Turkish variety is milder, while the California Bay leaves are stronger, with eucalyptus-like notes.



  1. Chinese Five Spice is a traditional blend, named not after the number of ingredients but after the five flavours (sour, bitter, salty, sweet, pungent). The traditional five spice powder is made of ground cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise and Szechuan pepper. This makes for a potent blend, and five spice is best used in moderation. The combination of these flavours is thought to create balance.


  1. Harissa is a condiment popular in North African cooking. It is a Maghrebi hot chilli paste, the main ingredients are roasted red Capsicums, Baklouti Chilli, Serrano Chillies, and other hot chillies and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, saffron, rose, or caraway, as well as some vegetable or olive oil for preservation. It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. It’s as common there as Tabasco is in the United States.



  1. Scoville units are the most widely used measurement of a chillis heat. This scale, created by Wilbur Scoville, relied on a panel of tasters to determine how much sugar water solution was required to neutralize a chillies heat. The Carolina Reaper rings in at 2.2 million Scoville heat units, the equivalent of eating a ghost pepper and habanero at the same time.


  1. It is suspected that the origins of chilli powder date to frontier chuck wagons. The first commercial chilli powder was sold in the United states in the late 1800s. Chilli powder blend is composed chiefly of Red Chillies and blended with other spices including Cumin, Oregano, Garlic powder and salt



  1. Herbs are derived from a plant’s leaves whereas spices are sourced from the bark, buds, roots and seeds of a plant. This means you can have two very different flavours and products from the same plant. For example Fenugreek and Coriander, Both plants are widely used in Indian cuisines and are both sold for their golden seeds and green herb form.





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